One Pot Taco Skillet with Cheesy Shells (or: How to Avoid Routine Winter Cannibalism)

It was a ~*dark and stormy night.*~

…actually it was a dark and snowy night. Like, really snowy. The kind where you resign yourself to not leaving and get cozy with Netflix and hot cocoa.

But what about dinner?

Fear not! Sweet C’s Designs’ one-pot taco skillet is here!

This is a great recipe for people with a phobia of cooking rice. It seems weird, but sometimes it’s impossible to get right- it goes from soggy to crispy and hard in a flash. (Actually, it’s probably doesn’t happen that fast, but I just tend to lose track of things if it involves more than one pan). Here, the rice cooks right in the mix, so not only does it absorb the flavors of the rest of the dish but it gives the whole thing a sturdier consistency.

I did follow the McBride Rule of Substitutions on this one: Our opened beef stock was super old (like, of indeterminate age), which surprised me for some reason. A substitute, however, is diluting 1 tablespoon of soy sauce in a cup of water, and it worked just fine.

In a fit of crippling indecision, my roommates and I refused to choose between soft and hard shell tacos, probably because that’s like choosing a favorite parent. So with a streak of reclusive winter genius, we took the soft shells, sprinkled cheddar cheese on one side, popped them in the oven until the cheese melted, and then wrapped them around the hard shells loaded with taco filling. Yes, we made homemade cheesy gordita crunches. Suck it, Pinterest: necessity is the mother of invention, not burlap and lace, and sometimes you just need a Taco Bell staple in your life on a day when it’s snowing so hard you can’t see down the street.

This is what culinary brilliance (and really terrible phone photography) looks like.

Again, this is originally from Sweet C’s Designs with a few adjustments on my part…and the glorious addition of the cheesy soft shell.

One-Pot Taco Skillet with Cheesy Shells


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 orange (sweet) bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chillies (pick your spice level)
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans
  • 1 cup medium salsa
  • 1 cup white rice (not minute rice. Get real rice. You’re a grown up!)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce diluted in 1 C of water (substitute for beef stock)
  • 3/4 C water
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 C shredded Mexican/taco/cheddar cheese (whichever. We used Mexican because it’s great.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Over medium heat, use a large pan to brown the ground beef. Make sure it’s a pan large enough to contain all of the ingredients.
  2. When the beef is light brown, add in the onion and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft and the beef is fully cooked.
  3. Pour in the tomatoes and chillies without draining.
  4. Add salsa, rice, water, and soy sauce/water mix and stir to combine.
  5. Add in the spices and cover.
  6. Turn heat down to low and simmer until the rice is soft and the liquid is mostly cooked off (you still want a little bit so that everything is moist)- this takes around 15-20 minutes. If you’re making the cheesy shells, start preheating your oven.


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Sprinkle cheese in the center of the soft taco shells.
  3. Put them in the oven for about 5 minutes, or however long it takes the cheese to melt.
  4. Wrap the soft tacos around the hard taco shells and enjoy the smug satisfaction that comes with eating a great taco.

Serve with (more) cheese (no such thing as too much), sour cream, shredded lettuce, and shells.

For reference, here’s what the snow looked like the next day (it was much deeper around the neighborhood)…

Hoth, obviously.

2 thoughts on “One Pot Taco Skillet with Cheesy Shells (or: How to Avoid Routine Winter Cannibalism)

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